Hiking suggestions in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan

Got some trip suggestions at another National Park, or know of a great place in the middle of no where? Share them here, plan your trips, and hook up with other individuals on the forum.

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HikerGal
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Hiking suggestions in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan

Post by HikerGal » Wed Sep 07, 2016 9:34 am

I'm looking for suggestions for preferably a 3 night, 4 day hike somewhere in the upper part of the lower peninsula, or not too far across the bridge. Maybe 20 miles total and few people. I am looking at the last weekend in September or early/mid-October. Probably even a little ways across the bridge would cut down on the number of people around. Any suggestions from anyone? I really want to go to Isle Royale one more time this year but.....

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conmcb25
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Re: Hiking suggestions in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan

Post by conmcb25 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 2:05 pm

Check this out:

Manistee River Trail.

http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/hmnf/rec ... ecid=18710

On both ends the trail connects to the North Country so you can do a loop. I last did it in 2008 or 2009. I was my youngest son's very first backpacking trip.


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Re: Hiking suggestions in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan

Post by Gwest1 » Thu Sep 08, 2016 12:47 pm

We just got back from a long weekend on North Manitou Island. Not sure that would work for you, though, now that I look at the boat schedule. After September 15th, the ferry only runs Friday/Saturday/Sunday.

Still, someplace to keep in mind. Pretty easy hiking, and all back country camping except for a handful of sites near the dock / old village. Lots of neat things to see and beautiful Lake Michigan sunsets.


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Re: Hiking suggestions in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan

Post by torpified » Thu Sep 08, 2016 5:13 pm

I'm another SE MI dweller, and I'm following. (I have a hankering for freeze-dried food, but only weekends to play with between now and May.) Has anybody backpacked the Waterloo-Pickney trail? I like day hiking in the Pickney section of it, but the online testimonies I've found (many of which dwell on how hard the trail is to follow) make me suspect overnight outings could disappoint.


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HikerGal
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Re: Hiking suggestions in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan

Post by HikerGal » Fri Sep 09, 2016 5:44 am

Thanks all for the suggestions.

I am seriously looking into the Manistee River Trail. Are there any restrictions on camping along the NCT section? I'd like to break that stretch up. Also, there does not look like there is any reasonable access to water along the NCT section. It would be nice to get water but with a little planning, and it being fall, we should be ok.

North Manitou Island is another place I did think of; I've been there 3 times and I was trying to find some place different. North Manitou is indeed quite nice and if it weren't for the boat schedule and my "need" to camp 3 nights, it would definitively be in the running. All 3 times we went it was Memorial Day weekend, and with the exception of the dock, it really was not crowded. And yes, the sunsets are beautiful and the water was so incredibly blue.

I have backpacked the Waterloo-Pinckney trail. Once we started at the Park Office on McClure, camped at Green Lake and then Blind Lake, and out at Silver Lake Park Office. The other two times we started at Willis Road, camped at the Pines and then at the Equestrian Campground near Sugarloaf, and out at the Eddy Discover Center. The adventures were in May, September and October; I was not disappointed. Don't get me wrong, I would like every adventure to be like Isle Royale, and I was set up in my head to be disappointed, but I was not. It is nice because with a little planning you can do it on a weekend, starting after work on Friday. The trails are a little hard to follow, and we have indeed gotten lost; last time quite a bit lost. But I guess because my pack is quite a bit lighter for the weekend adventures, it did not bother me too much. And also there is no worry that you could truly get lost forever, although cell coverage is spotty. I liked the trail further west; less people. And the Pines is very secluded and only one other tent was there both times. And the Equestrian Campground we had to ourselves, although it is quite open. I would definitely give Waterloo-Pinckney Trail a try.

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Re: Hiking suggestions in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan

Post by jrwiesz » Fri Sep 09, 2016 9:14 am

Carry water for the NCT section; difficult to find water sources, we drew from a big puddle a considerable distance down a steep hillside.

Of course, a recent rain, may leave one with fresh puddles with less work involved.
"And standing on the the crest of the Greenstone Ridge, I suddenly had this desire to retreat north to where I just come, to stay in the backcountry, to spend another day in a place where the only deadline I had was to pitch the tent before dark."
Jim DuFresne

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conmcb25
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Re: Hiking suggestions in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan

Post by conmcb25 » Fri Sep 09, 2016 11:00 am

HikerGal wrote:

I am seriously looking into the Manistee River Trail. Are there any restrictions on camping along the NCT section? I'd like to break that stretch up. Also, there does not look like there is any reasonable access to water along the NCT section. It would be nice to get water but with a little planning, and it being fall, we should be ok.
There was a fair number of "unofficial campsites" along the NCT. I don't believe there are restrictions on the camping locations since it is National Forest. I would check with the Manistee National Forest to be sure.

I started on the south end of the loop and went north on the NCT. I filled up with water and really hydrated before starting, camped along the NCT and then bee-lined for the River Crossing at the north end the next morning. Water is difficult to get on that portion of the trail but its manageable if you are prepared. The MRT has ready access to water.

Good luck if you decide to do the MRT. Post a report if you can when you get back, Id like to hear your impressions.


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Re: Hiking suggestions in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan

Post by The_Guy » Wed Jun 07, 2017 6:53 am

I know this is older but I just hiked the Manistee River trail this weekend.
Due to time constraints on the first day we didn't get started until nearly 3pm. Luckily it's mid-June so daylight isn't an issue.
Started at the red bridge parking lot and followed the trail north along the river side. The river side is where all the "official" camping spots are though I believe you can camp nearly everywhere that's not posted on both sides of the river. The riverside is a beautiful walk with some great views and even a waterfall. Nearly every camping spot was taken along the trail (no surprise for late afternoon on a weekend). We hiked about 9 miles past the last official campsite and turned off the trail and down a large hill to a spot I camp at frequently. Set up camp somewhere around 645 and it wasn't until then that I even noticed any bugs. We filled up water in the river and sat and watched the fish jumping to eat mayflys.
About 11pm a large storm rolled in and lasted until 2 or 3am. Everything stayed dry and I was happy for the rain so I could see how my waterproofing had held up over the winter before I head to ISRO next month.
The next morning the inside of my rainfly and my shoes that I had left in my vestibule were covered in slugs. So after de-slugging everything and tearing down we headed out for the last 11 miles on the trail.
Once you cross the suspension bridge heading to the NCT side of the trail you'll come across a creek roughly 1-2 miles in. This is the last chance for water for anyone headed south for 8 or 9 miles. By the time we hit the creek I was still good on water so instead of topping off I just put my hat in the creek and poured some very chilly water on my head to cool off. By then the temperature was getting close to 80 and I was starting to feel the heat.
The NCT section of the trail is multi-use for hikers and bikers so it's wise to keep an eye out for bikes as they can come around blind corners quickly and there isn't enough trail for 2 people to maneuver. After 7 or 8 miles on the NCT you'll come to a split in the trail, on way headed further on the NCT and the other connecting back towards the red bridge parking lot. Another 30 minutes or so and we were back to the car.

I know this was long, tried to combine a trip report while also explaining the trail. Normally I take this trail NCT side first as there is more elevation gain on that side but due to the late start we weren't sure if we'd be able to finish that side of the trail and get water and find a spot to camp before dark.
Hope this helps!

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